particularly.” “Has this anything at all to do with Farthingham?” Now it was his turn to stare. “Farthingham? Why ever would you think that?” “You two have always been most competitive, and not only when it came to sports and games. Since he’s apparently decided to take an American as a wife, I thought perhaps you’d decided to outdo him by finding one who has more beauty and wealth at her disposal.” “My request has nothing at all to do with Farthingham. And I care little about her beauty and absolutely nothing about her wealth.” “Then why have you developed a sudden keen interest in Americans? It seems most odd when you were listing all their unattractive points to Anne only last week.” “I’m not interested in Americans . Rather an American. One lady.” “So you already have a particular lady in mind? This revelation is most interesting. If you were to tell me her name, I could make inquiries.” “I’m not exactly certain by what name she might be known.” And he wasn’t going to admit that he knew so little about her that he only knew her as Kitty. “Besides, I prefer to be subtle in my endeavors to locate her.” “Subtle? Men are subtle when searching for a mistress.” He heaved an impatient sigh. “Mother, all I need to know is to which balls she is most likely to have received an invitation.” “I had so hoped you’d finally decided to search for a wife.” “Well, I haven’t. And I’m not entirely certain that I’m searching for a mistress either.” Frustrated by the direction taken by their conversation, he came to his feet, strode to the window, and gazed out. From that vantage point, he saw his greenhouse, already displaying riotous colors in bloom. He had a man who saw to the flowers when Richard wasn’t in London, but when he was in residence, he preferred to tend to the delicate plants himself, many gathered from different parts of the world. When it came to women, he’d always remained true to England, never desired the exotic. He pressed a hand to the window casing and bowed his head. “I only know that it is imperative that I find her.” He glanced over his shoulder. “Will you help me?” Something of his desperation must have shown on his face because his mother suddenly looked as lost as he felt. “Yes, of course.” She placed the tray on her lap and began quickly to look over each invitation. He returned to the chair, unable to reconcile his tension over so simple a matter or this driving need he had to find Kitty. He thought of her day and night, relived their fiery kisses, and heard the constant echo of her parting words. He wasn’t even certain what he would do once he found her—but find her he would. He was not one to give up the chase simply because the quarry had no wish to be found. “I should think Ravenleigh’s ball would be a good place to start,” his mother said, holding up a gilded invitation. “His wife is American, you know.” “Yes, I believe I do recall hearing that.” “They have developed the habit of opening their home to any and all Americans, particularly those from Texas.” “Texas,” he repeated. He thought of her slow drawl, the way she’d not been content simply to be known as an American, but had felt a need to be more specific, to identify her precise origins. Texas . His mother nodded. “Ravenleigh’s wife comes from somewhere in the state. Her accent is most grating on the ears, but other than that she is most likable.” “I’ll start there then, but if you’d recommend a fewother parties where I can make an appearance if the lady doesn’t attend Ravenleigh’s, I would be most grateful.” “You’re quite determined to find her, aren’t you?” His answer was succinctly given, leaving no doubt as to his intent or his determination. “Yes.” Not only to finding her but to possessing her as well.
Chapter 4 S he drew his attention the moment she glided through the doorway